The latest tragic crash on Cayman Islands roads has left a 20-year-old North Side man dead, and his younger brother in a Miami hospital with nearly every bone in his face broken.
‘He has a long, hard road ahead,’ said Joey Ebanks, a cousin who was in the hospital room with 15-year-old Lex Whittaker on Monday. ‘He’s broken his jaw, the bone next to the eyes; it’s extensive.’
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said the Honda Civic the brothers were in slammed into a concrete pillar outside a house on Old Robin Road, Queens Highway, around 1 a.m. Sunday. The car caught fire after the wreck, but flames were put out quickly by nearby residents who used a hose.
Tito Whittaker, the driver, had to be cut out of the car after fire and rescue crews arrived. He died after being transported to hospital. Tito’s teenage brother, Lex, was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami where he’s now undergoing intensive trauma care.
Mr. Ebanks said the younger Whittaker is expected to make a long hospital stay in Miami, but other than risk of anesthesia during surgical procedures, nurses anticipated he would pull through.
‘His jaws will have to be wired shut for six weeks, for them to repair his face. He’s looking at months of recovering, maybe even years. But he is talking to me, when I ask him questions he’ll respond. He can shake his head from side to side. He wipes his eyes, he wipes his mouth.’
Mr. Ebanks said sometime overnight Saturday or early Sunday the Whittaker brothers pushed the vehicle, which belonged to their father, out onto the road; then started it up and drove it along Queens Highway. He said they spotted a police car while driving, panicked, and sped up, leading to the crash. ‘That’s what I’ve been able to piece together from their father,’ said Mr. Ebanks.
The death of Tito Whittaker comes just five days after 18-year-old Davado Romar McField was also killed in a one-car wreck along Sea View Road.
A month before that, three young men died in two separate accidents just before Christmas. 18- and 19-year-old cousins Ashier Watson and Cody McLaughlin were killed 20 December when their car crashed into a concrete barrier near the public beach entrance on West Bay Rd.
Witnesses said a car was spotted weaving at high speeds along that same stretch of road just before the accident occurred.
A day later, 21-year-old Andre Blackwood was found dead. His truck had somehow become submerged in a dike road near the Esterley-Tibbetts Highway.
Glen “Pappa Sleepy” Seymour, 52, remains in critical condition at a Jamaican hospital after he was run over along Bodden Town Road earlier this month. RCIPS said a man was arrested in connection with that incident.
Besides two traffic fatalities, and two critical injuries, so far this year in the Cayman Islands; police reported a big jump in fatal crashes last year. Fourteen people died in 2006 on island roads, many of them young drivers.
‘This is against a background of a major increase in police enforcement,’ said Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan earlier this month during a media briefing.
Aileen Samuels, co-president of the group MattSafe, which helps educate people on traffic safety issues, said RCIPS can’t be blamed.
‘The police are doing…more than they’ve ever done,’ said Ms Samuel in a previous interview with the Caymanian Compass. ‘They can’t be everywhere.’
Sitting in a hospital room with his critically injured 15-year-old cousin, Joey Ebanks agrees.
“There’s no way to legislate, or for the government to correct this….this is a parenting issue,” said Mr. Ebanks.